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Rock - Released March 15, 1987 | Rhino - Warner Records

Los Lobos spent years playing parties, wedding receptions, restaurants, bars, and anyplace else where someone might pay them for a gig before landing a deal with Slash Records, and their first full-length album for the label, How Will the Wolf Survive?, is the work of a band that had learned how to play something for everyone while still maintaining their own musical personality in the process. How Will the Wolf Survive? swings back and forth from straight-ahead rock ("Don't Worry Baby") and potent R&B grooves ("I Got Loaded") to country-accented blues ballads ("A Matter of Time") and Mexican traditional numbers ("Serenata Nortena"), with the band's exemplary taste, musical smarts, and road-tested maturity in evidence on every cut. While rarely flashy, even a casual listen offers all the proof you might need that Los Lobos were a band of world-class musicians, with David Hidalgo's guitar work especially impressive throughout. Just as importantly, How Will the Wolf Survive? was the first album where Los Lobos showed how much they had to say as songwriters, especially on "A Matter of Time" and the title cut, two songs that offered a moving and compassionate look at the lives of illegal aliens in America. On ...And a Time to Dance, Los Lobos showed the world that they were a great dance band, but How Will the Wolf Survive? showed they were a great dance band, and a lot more besides. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released October 4, 2019 | Rhino

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The problem with the sizable majority of Christmas albums is they sound pretty much the same. Most yuletide records feature the same songs about Jesus or Santa that have been circulating for decades (if not centuries), and regardless of the genre, someone throws in sleigh bells or a "Ho Ho Ho" to remind you that yes, this is Christmas music. So hats off to Los Lobos for making a Christmas album that does something fresh and interesting with songs of the season. For 2019's Llegó Navidad, Los Lobos sifted through dozens of Christmas songs in a variety of Latin genres from South and Central America as well as Mexico (along with a few obscurities from the United States), and what they've delivered is a collection of tunes that (with two exceptions) has flown far under the radar of mainstream listeners in North America. Here the band celebrate the holiday with songs rooted in salsa, cumbia, ranchera, cancion, son jarocho, and Tex-Mex styles, most sung in Spanish, and while there's a genuine warmth and good cheer to these performances, this sounds less like a typical Christmas album and more like a Los Lobos album, which is most certainly a good thing. The group plugs in on a few tracks, but the bulk of Llegó Navidad is dominated by acoustic material, and fans who loved 1988's La Pistola y la Corazon and 2005's Acoustic en Vivo will especially enjoy this. Either acoustic or amplified, this music is performed with the passion, skill, and joy that this band has brought to their work for over 45 years, and listening to them play together is about as pleasurable as American music gets. The album also includes a fresh original tune, an old-school R&B-influenced track called "Christmas and You," and just to give wary listeners something they already know, they close the set with "Feliz Navidad" played like an enthusiastic singalong where friends and family happily shout the chorus, perhaps aided by a beer or two. If you're looking for something to play at your holiday party that's a change of pace, Llegó Navidad will fill the bill quite well, and don't be surprised if it stays in your personal rotation well into the new year. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Hollywood Records

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Pop - Released March 31, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

Los Lobos had earned a reputation as one of the most intelligent and creative roots rock acts in America with the albums By the Light of the Moon and The Neighborhood, but it was with 1992's Kiko that they really demonstrated the breadth of their sonic ambitions. Produced in collaboration with Mitchell Froom, Kiko exchanged the more straightforward approach of Los Lobos' previous sessions for a uniquely textured sound, with the group's guitars thrown into sharp relief against Froom's collection of vintage tape-loop keyboards, and the arrangements are often unusually spare, most powerfully in the ghostly spaciousness of "Kiko and the Lavender Moon" and "Wake Up Delores." Even the more full-bodied cuts, such as the rollicking "That Train Don't Stop Here" and the hard-rocking "Whiskey Trail," boast a different personality than in Los Lobos' previous work, with the guitars clean but cutting like a switchblade and the drums snapping hard, and the more contemplative selections drip with a mysterious, otherworldly ambience that's matched by the impressionistic imagery of David Hidalgo and Louie Pérez's superb songs. At its best, Kiko sounds like the musical equivalent of a Luis Buñuel dream sequence, balancing beauty and menace with intelligence and a skill that's little short of dazzling; it's a brilliant, singular achievement, and the most rewarding album in the group's catalog. ~ Mark Deming
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Pop - Released March 31, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

By the time Los Lobos made their debut on record, they already had a half-decade of live gigs under their belt. That initial independent release, Del Este de Los Angeles, went largely unrecognized, however, and it wasn't until a half-decade later that the music business took notice. With the arrival of ...And a Time to Dance, they began to realize what many Southern California music fans had discovered years earlier. Here was a band that combined stunning instrumental chops with a flare for everything rootsy, from '50s rock & roll and R&B to country twang and traditional norteño. They were a formidable live unit as well, and the restaurants, weddings, and parties that served as the group's initial circuit were soon replaced by gigs at the Olympic Auditorium (a defunct boxing arena where the group opened for P.I.L.) and the Whiskey a Go Go. Just Another Band from East L.A., this two-disc, 41-song compilation of album cuts, soundtrack contributions, live tracks, and unreleased material, celebrates the group's first 14 years on record. It follows the band from their first recordings in the late '70s to 1992's visionary Kiko. Along the way, Los Lobos honed their blend of rock & roll and Tex-Mex on a pair of T-Bone Burnett-produced albums, returned to their roots for the traditional flavors of La Pistola y el Corazón, and scored a number one hit with the title track to director Luis Valdez's film La Bamba. With each new full-length, the penmanship of David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez, and Cesar Rosas only seemed to improve, and Just Another Band includes all of the songwriting highs. An excellent place to begin a journey into the music of Los Lobos. ~ Nathan Bush
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Pop - Released March 31, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

Los Lobos used the commercial breakthrough represented by La Bamba to turn to their first love, Mexican folk music, and recorded this excellent collection of norteño songs. If this is a band that seems to do too many things well, in a sense they are at their best when they narrow their focus, and they are certainly masters of their style here. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released March 31, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

On How Will the Wolf Survive?, Los Lobos seemed to be feeling out the boundaries of how much they could say about the hard realities of life within the framework of good-time R&B-flavored rock & roll, and on their next album, 1987's By the Light of the Moon, the group gently shifted their focus to favor their more contemplative side. While the band certainly hadn't lost the ability to rock out (check out "My Baby's Gone" or "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes" for proof), most of the album displayed a lighter touch musically, with David Hidalgo's deft lead guitar and Cesar Rosas' precise rhythm chords fueling lean but smoky R&B numbers like "Is That All There Is?" and "All I Wanted to Do Was Dance" and understated musical snapshots like "One Time, One Night" and "River of Fools." Lyrically, By the Light of the Moon is dominated by the sad mysteries of life and the less-than-generous nature of fate, as ordinary people try to come to terms with death ("One Time, One Night"), disappointment ("Is That All There Is?"), love that's faded into the shadows ("The Hardest Time"), and the mingled comfort and uncertainties of faith ("Tears of God"). While the soundtrack album to the movie La Bamba, released the same year, captured Los Lobos at their most carefree and high-spirited as they called up the spirit of Ritchie Valens, By the Light of the Moon showed the other side of the coin as the group looked into the hearts and souls of themselves and the community around them, and if it's a harder album to enjoy than those that preceded it, its depth rewards repeated listenings. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released March 15, 2005 | Hollywood Records

While Los Lobos have made a handful of great albums during the course of their career, you have to see them live to fully appreciate their status as one of America's best rock bands. Their material is smart and wildly eclectic, they're superb musicians whose interplay has been honed to a fine edge by years of road work, and they know that great chops will never be as important as a strong dose of sweaty enthusiasm if you want to get over with an audience; put it all together and you get a group that never disappoints a crowd. It's a bit surprising that, after more than thirty years together, no one ever thought to record a Los Lobos live album, but in the summer of 2004, as the band was celebrating their official 30th Anniversary, they brought in a camera crew and a mobile recording truck to document a two-night stand at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium; the results were released as a DVD in late 2004, and now an audio-only version of Live at the Fillmore has come out on CD. Given how impressive a backlog of material this band has, it's almost inevitable that Live at the Fillmore would be a bit of a disappointment, given that there's only so many of los Lobos' many great songs can appear on a single disc, especially since the band puts the strongest focus on their most recent material in this set. But with an eye towards history, they do offer a taste from most of their albums in these 14 songs (going all the way back to 1984's And a Time to Dance), and the recording gear caught the band on a good night -- Los Lobos are clearly having a good time on these tunes, and playing with confidence, style and soul, running the gamut from the flat-out rock of "Good Morning Aztlan" and "Viking" to the soulful Latin groove of "Cumbia Raza," finally closing with an impassioned cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On." Los Lobos are a band who would do well to consider a series of live albums that could capture the full breadth of their capabilities in concert, in the manner of Pearl Jam and the Grateful Dead, but Live at the Fillmore captures a taste of the band's on-stage magic with accuracy and finesse, and both fans and newcomers will find it tasty stuff indeed. The initial pressing also includes a bonus CD including three acoustic tracks. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 26, 1988 | Rhino - Slash

The hugely successful soundtrack to the biographical film about 1950s rock & roller Ritchie Valens, La Bamba introduced the world to the Chicano rock of U.S. five-piece Los Lobos. Its title track reached number one in several countries, and was one of eight songs the group contributed to the 1987 album. As well as their renditions of six Valens classics, they also cover the Sevilles' "Charlena" and Jesse Belvin's "Goodnight My Love." Brian Setzer, Marshall Crenshaw, and Howard Huntsberry also appear, with interpretations of songs by Jackie Wilson, Buddy Holly, and Eddie Cochran, alongside Bo Diddley's original "Who Do You Love." ~ Jon O'Brien
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Pop - Released March 8, 2009 | Warner Records

Unlike most bands in their second decade of recording, Los Lobos gets more daring and diverse as they get older, creating sonic landscapes that are based in their justly celebrated roots rock but twisting off into wild, unexpected directions. Colossal Head is their most adventurous work to date, building on the moody, atmospheric Kiko without losing sight of their gritty blues roots. While it certainly shows signs of David Hidalgo's lo-fi, experimental Latin Playboys project, the album isn't merely an exercise in sound. Los Lobos applies their broad musical palette to a set of tightly written, inventive songs that may not be as immediate as their past work, but are no less melodic and rewarding. Instead of running through a number of different genres on each individual song, they make a dream-like sonic collage that draws from jazz, funk, and avant-garde as much as their traditional rock, R&B, Latin, and blues. What keeps Colossal Head from drifting off into space is Los Lobos' love of American musical traditions. Not only have they mastered their influences, they have fully assimilated them into their sound, creating their own, unique music. And that's far more interesting than simply regurgitating the same blues, rock, Mexican, and country licks. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released October 29, 2013 | Savoy

Los Lobos were together for 33 years before they got around to making a live album, but it didn't take long for them to grow fond of the format; Disconnected in New York City is the fourth concert set the veteran East L.A. band has released since 2005. As the title suggests, Disconnected in New York City was recorded during an acoustic gig at the City Winery in N.Y.C., and shows off the more intimate and easygoing side of the group's musical personality, with the absence of amps taking some of the bite out of David Hidalgo's guitar solos, often the high point of their gigs. (He does get to show off his chops on "Tin Can Trust," and they're as impressive as ever.) That's not to say Los Lobos sound mellow on this date; the group is tight and emphatic at every turn, and Cesar Rosas' vocals and Steve Berlin's sax get a greater chance to shine in these quieter settings. The rhythms are fierce whey get a chance to simmer -- the interplay between percussionists Bugs Gonzalez and Camilo Quinones is inspired -- and rather than lean on their best-known tunes, Los Lobos reach deep into their songbook and pull out some excellent lesser-recognized numbers, including "Little Things," "Tears of God," and "Oh Yeah." (They do deliver "La Bamba" to close the show, but invest the crowd-pleaser with lots of energy, and interpolate "Good Lovin'" to add a soulful spin.) Disconnected in New York City isn't quite as interesting as 2005's Acoustic en Vivo, which gave Los Lobos more room to explore their roots in Mexican folk music, but anyone who thinks this band may have run out of steam after pulling out their acoustic guitars gets schooled with a single listen to Disconnected. Forty years on, Los Lobos are still one of America's best, bravest, and most satisfying bands, and their skills and their their instincts remain razor-sharp, regardless of their stage volume. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released November 2, 2018 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

In 1987, Los Lobos released their ambitious and contemplative By the Light of the Moon and the surprise-hit soundtrack album La Bamba, while the following year they recorded a low-key set of Mexican folk songs, La Pistola y el Corazón. After making three such disparate albums, it was seemingly anyone's guess what path Los Lobos might follow next, and when they next emerged from the recording studio, 1990's The Neighborhood made it clear they had taken a number of enlightening side trips along the way. While building on the musical and lyrical maturity of By the Light of the Moon, The Neighborhood followed a number of different musical themes, with the musicians seeking (and finding) a common musical ground between the New Orleans R&B stomp of "Jenny's Got a Pony," the country-flavored fiddle of "Emily," the atmospheric late-night pulse of "Angel Dance," the blues-based swagger of "I Can't Understand," and the downbeat jazzy contemplation of "The Neighborhood." Anyone who had been listening already knew that Los Lobos were five singularly gifted musicians, but The Neighborhood found them challenging themselves with an ever-expanded musical palate, and as usual they rose to the occasion very well indeed, especially lead guitarist David Hidalgo, and producer Larry Hirsch gave the performances just the right amount of polish while providing the settings they deserved. And the songs, portraits of moments in lives both great and small, come together in the moving title track, in which Los Lobos return where they started their journey, their own back yard, where folks are still looking for a measure of hope and peace of mind. A genuine step forward for a great band, as well as the jumping-off point to their most experimental period. ~ Mark Deming

Rock - Released January 1, 2006 | Mammoth

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The simple fact, not stated nearly often enough, is that Los Lobos are one of America's truly great rock & roll bands, and they've been making consistently strong albums since 1984's How Will the Wolf Survive? But 1992's Kiko raised the stakes for Los Lobos' work in the studio with its edgy atmosphere, ambitious production, and expressionistic, purposefully off-kilter textures; it took their music in new and unexpected places with confidence and fire, but they seemed a bit unsure of where they should go down the new trail they blazed. Released in 1996, Colossal Head found them replicating Kiko's sonics without approaching its emotional power, while their subsequent recordings found them retreating into the safety of their status as America's finest roots rock band, which is hardly a bad or unsatisfying place to be. But The Town and the City is the first album where Los Lobos have allowed themselves the same degree of freedom and room to play with their signature sound as they had on Kiko, and the result is a quietly exhilarating experience. The Town and the City is a simpler and more measured set than one might expect from Los Lobos, with a lower quotient of full-on rock, but the band's performances are as tight and sinewy as ever; David Hidalgo offers yet another master class in virtuoso guitar playing (without strutting his ego or boring the listener in the process), and Cesar Rosas remains his perfect instrumental foil. The rhythm section gives the songs a firm backbone and adds welcome color and heft to the music, and the production (by the band, with Tchad Blake and Robert Carranza mixing) makes the most of the interplay between the musicians -- this is music that revels in the spaces as much as the notes, and demonstrates that this is truly a great band rather than just five gifted players. The 13 songs on The Town and the City work within a loose conceptual framework as they ponder the Mexican-American experience both among illegals and folks who were born and raised in the U.S.A., and while Los Lobos are too smart and too talented to sink into melodrama, there's a sense of wonder in the opening tune, "The Valley," and an air of measured dread in the finale, "The Town," which leaves room for a great deal that's both joyous and tragic in the lives of their characters. The Town and the City isn't likely to be the soundtrack for your next party, but it's an exciting and emotionally powerful experience that grows with each listen, and it's hard to think of many bands who, after three decades together, are as willing to challenge both themselves and their audience as Los Lobos do on this album. ~ Mark Deming
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Pop - Released December 15, 2009 | Rhino - Slash

1983's ...And a Time to Dance wasn't Los Lobos' first record, but if you lived outside of East Los Angeles, chances are excellent that you'd never crossed paths with a copy of their self-released debut album (Del Este de Los Angeles (Just Another Band from East L.A.)) before this EP hit the racks. At only seven songs, ...And a Time to Dance didn't give the group the space to present more than a quick once-over of their eclectic musical range, but it did make it clear that this was a really great band, with the kind of chops, intelligence, and maturity that can come from a decade of woodshedding. And on ...And a Time to Dance, not only was the band having a great time playing "spot the genre" with their audience, they were crossbreeding styles and coming up with great sounds all their own: the straight-up rock & roll of "Let's Say Goodnight" is fortified with a strong dose of Tex-Mex fire thanks to David Hidalgo's accordion, the bluesy swing of "Walking Song" gets a spring in its step from a fleet-fingered jazz guitar line, and the two traditional numbers in Spanish both burn with the high spirits and hot tempos of a potent rock & roll band. And it's hard not to love a song like "How Much Can I Do?," in which a guy tries to prove his love to his wife by promising to lay off cheap wine and nights out at the nudie bar. If ...And a Time to Dance didn't quite make clear Los Lobos were one of America's truly great bands, it did make clear they were a lot of fun and a force to be reckoned with, and that's quite enough of a message to pass along in seven songs. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 1, 1999 | Hollywood Records

Given all the extracurricular projects members of Los Lobos pursued during the three years separating Colossal Head and its followup, it's not surprising that they've decided to show off what they've learned on This Time, resulting in a record that vacillates between songcraft and sonic sculptures. It could be said that Kiko and Colassal Head were like this as well, but the difference is that This Time has the structure of a straight-ahead rock & roll record, clocking in at 38 minutes with 11 short tracks. While that conciseness is welcome, it also points out the flaws in the post-Latin Playboys Los Lobos -- Cesar Rosas' fine rockers are obscured by a layer of studio gauze, and David Hidalgo's songs can seem like excuses to run wild in the studio. If the production was truly evocative or innovative, that wouldn't be a problem, but This Time is another in a long line of murky, self-conscious productions from Froom, Blake, and Hidalgo, where creating sound is more important than making music. This is especially frustrating, since This Time has elements of a very good record -- it's paced well and boasts strong moments from both Hidalgo ("This Time," "Turn Around") and Rosas ("Oh Yeah," "Cumbia Raza"). As it stands, it is Los Lobos' tightest record since The Neighborhood, but it's hard not to feel that it could have been better if Los Lobos saved the "explorations" for their side-projects. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 2015 | Savoy

Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | Hollywood Records

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Great rock & roll bands aren't supposed to be as modest as Los Lobos, an unlikely band comprised of five world-class musicians who write, sing, and play brilliantly, have been doing it for close to 30 years -- and don't appear to feel compelled to make a big show of it. Lack of flash should never be confused with a lack of creativity, of course, and their best album, 1992's Kiko, showed they could bend traditional structures and play with the possibilities of the studio as well as any hipsters half their age. But straightforward meat-and-potatoes rock and soul have always been their strongest calling card, and their post-Kiko work with producer Mitchell Froom found them struggling to balance their more experimental instincts with their gifts as straight-ahead players, often with uneven results. Good Morning Aztlán finds Los Lobos working with a new producer, John Leckie, whose work with Radiohead, the Fall, and Kula Shaker confirms his credentials in helping to craft intelligent, creative music. But Leckie has also worked with Dr. John and Roy Harper, and knows the importance of letting a great musician simply play; as a result, Good Morning Aztlán sounds like Los Lobos' strongest album since Kiko. Leckie has replaced Froom's banks of tape-loop keyboards and webs of audio trickery with a solid, straightforward sound that reflects the band's skills as one of rock's most consistently impressive live acts, but he's also caught them on tape with a batch of especially impressive songs, many of which deal with the nuts and bolts of life in the Hispanic community. Good Morning Aztlán swings from high-octane rock & roll ("Done Gone Blue"), soulful R&B ("Hearts of Stone"), passionate Latin grooves ( "Luz de Mi Vida"), and any number of combinations thereof, such as "Malaque"'s slinky Latin melody set to a neo-hip-hop beat, or "Get to This," which blends an old-school funk bottom with crunching rock guitars. And if Los Lobos prefer to write about small-p personal politics rather than Large-P Global Politics, their take on the sometimes funny, sometimes troubling stakes of life in Hispanic America makes it clear that they know what goes on in their neighborhood, and they have plenty of compelling things to say about it. Good Morning Aztlán isn't hip, revolutionary, or groundbreaking -- it's just a superb album from one of America's great rock bands. ~ Mark Deming
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World - Released March 11, 2014 | Fantasy Records

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Miscellaneous - Released December 5, 2014 | SnapShot

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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Hollywood Records

Not counting compilations and live recordings, The Ride is the 11th album by East Los Angelinos Los Lobos. And in contrast to the rest of their hefty catalog, it stands as a wonderful anomaly on their shelf. First, it is an offering with loads of guests, from influences such as Richard Thompson, Garth Hudson, the Grateful Dead's famed lyricist Robert Hunter, R&B legend Bobby Womack, Latin garage-funk hero Little Willie G., gospel great Mavis Staples, and Tom Waits to contemporaries like Elvis Costello, Dave Alvin, Greg Leisz, Mitchell Froom, Martha Gonzales, Latin music statesman Rubén Blades, and rock en Español inventors Café Tacuba, and many more. These 13 tracks walk the razored edge between the band's wondrous amalgam of rock, blues, country, soul, and Latin folk and pop styles found on How Will the Wolf Survive? and The Neighborhood to the song fragmentation and studio experimentation that made records like Kiko and Colossal Head standouts. To this end, Los Lobos redo some of their nuggets There's a wonderfully gospelized read of "Matter of Time," with Costello, that adds a completely new meaning to the tune. Little Willie G.'s vocal on "Is This All There Is" digs deep into the tune for its gritty funk root and stretches it to the breaking point -- it's one of the strongest performances on the disc. But the medley of "Wicked Rain" from Kiko with Womack's "Across 110th Street," with the band in full stretch-out mode and Womack at the peak of his soul crooning powers, is the biggest surprise. Over eight minutes in length, the combination of the tunes is smooth and sweet, driven with acoustic guitars, a punched-up horn section, and Rev. Charles Williams' shimmering Rhodes and B-3 in the mix. But the new material, such as "Veganza de los Pelados," with Mexico City's Café Tacuba, is the meld of the two bands' quirky strengths. Los Lobos bring the mystic Latin groove and bluesy angularity of the guitar lines, while the Tacubas bring the big knotty beats and edgy power chords, stunning dynamics, and a sense of play. Likewise, "Ya Se Va," with Blades, is a perfect cocktail of Afro-Cuban son and mariachi. "Wreck of the Carlos Rey," with Thompson, pairs David Hidalgo with the British guitarist in a snaky moaning weave of Anglo folk and driving, minor-key bluesy rock. The meeting of the band and Staples on "Someday," with Williams on clavinet and Lonnie Jordan on B-3, is so fine and fluid that an entire album should be considered. Ultimately, with the possible exception of "Kitate," with Waits and Gonzales, which feels overindulgent and directionless, this record comes off like a dream, full of strength, vision, warmth, rhythms, textures, and a coming together of all of Los Lobos' various adventures in a solid coat of many colors. This is the culmination of 30 years, and as such, it is an album that pays tribute as well as points to the next, and walks the narrow path between playful adventurousness and tuneful accessibility with ragged elegance and swaggering confidence. ~ Thom Jurek